DISCOVERED

A Goodman is Hard to Find

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While many of our features here at Discovered focus on explorers who dive bravely into the unknown, we would be remiss if we did not also take the time to focus on those individuals who unearth greatness right in our own backyard. This was the case in 2944 when scanner-turned-amateur archaeologist, Kamelia Ganesh, unearthed an incredible find in Croshaw, the Empire’s earliest system outside of Sol.

The following are excerpts from an oral history recorded by the Mōhio Museum in Kevric City, Angeli.

Kamelia Ganesh: A small mining outfit had picked up a claim in the Icarus Cluster [Croshaw Cluster Beta] and had hired me to do their deep sweep. I had been scanning the area for about two straight months. They were the types who prospected picked-over sites after the easy money had already been squeezed out. A lot of independent operations don’t think it’s worth going after the more difficult veins, and most of the time, they’re right. However, if you invest in the proper hardware, and you get a damn good scanner on your payroll — aka moi — to make sure that you don’t waste your time, then well, there are some creds to be made. Now, being that this was Croshaw, the claim had been turned over more times than a by-the-hour hab in Jele, so I had to go real thorough. That kind of scanning takes discipline. When you’re crawling along, meter by meter, it gets real tempting to start cutting corners, but that’s what separates the pros from the enthusiasts. Probably why I was the first one to ever pick up the signal.

Two days before she was scheduled to complete her work, Kamelia detected a faint signal from within one of the smaller fringe asteroids.

Kamelia Ganesh: Didn’t know what to make of it at first. Almost ignored the damn thing to be honest. But it had been a good week and I had found a particularly thick run winding its way through the core of a recently cracked asteroid. That find alone was more than enough to pay for the whole operation, so I figured I could take a little break to satisfy my curiosity. Comes with being a scanner, I guess. Never could just leave well enough alone.

The signal was barely there and it kept fading in and out, so trying to lock onto the source was a real chore. By the time I started to home in on it, I had figured out that the garbled mess was repeating regularly. Since it had a pattern to it, that ruled out some weird EM coming off a floater or the like. Started having fantasies of discovering some weird alien device. My heart nearly leapt out of my suit when I spotted that dim red blinking light.

As soon as it came into view, I knew I had found something almost as good as aliens. There was no mistaking that can shape. It was an emergency beacon for sure. But from the way it was embedded in the asteroid, almost like it was part of the rock, it had to be old. Really, really old.

Determined to learn more about her strange discovery, she reached out to an expert, Professor Scott McGonigal at the Mōhio Museum.

Professor McGonigal: The beacon alone was quite the find and I eagerly accepted when Ms. Ganesh generously offered to let the Museum have it if I would help her understand the signal it had been broadcasting. Together we set to work to unravel its secrets.

The emergency beacon had been badly worn by time. The power cells were barely holding a charge, its casing had been severely corroded, and the electronics were near complete deterioration from exposure, so it was a slight miracle that it was still able to broadcast at all. My initial estimates based on the rate of decay placed the object at least over half a millennium old. Working inside our lab’s zero-G preservation tanks, we managed to recover from the heavily damaged memory bank a partial registration number and launch coordinates.

I scoured the registration archives to see if I could uncover the identity of the missing ship that had launched the beacon, while Ms. Ganesh investigated the coordinates.

Kamelia Ganesh: The coordinates were always going to be a bit of a long shot. Not only were they incomplete, but without knowing when they were recorded, the extrapolated position could be anywhere in a huge swath of the system. Rolling back my starmap, I traced a route along centuries of possibilities but I didn’t turn up anything. I didn’t want to admit that we’d hit a dead end, but with the fact that the wreckage would be most likely be completely powered down as well as the fact that it could have just drifted away, I knew stumbling across whoever sent the beacon would be next to impossible.

Professor McGonigal: Despite the archives turning up numerous possible matches for the partial registration number, none of them fit the profile we were looking for. Any of the more recent ships of course were ruled out, as were all the ships who had been noted as successfully retired. After weeks of tracing the histories of the remaining candidates, it seemed that the ship from which our beacon had originated simply did not exist in the records. Sadly, I had to give up the search and return to my duties here at the museum.

With their leads seemingly exhausted, the pair’s search had come to a disappointing conclusion. As a consolation, Professor McGonigal invited Kamelia to attend the unveiling of the exhibit that would become the beacon’s new home.

Professor McGonigal: We had incorporated the beacon into our History of Spaceflight wing. It was placed alongside several other notable emergency beacons that had been recovered during Humanity’s expansion throughout the stars. As a curator, I couldn’t be more pleased that its inclusion in the exhibit is what gave us our most important revelation.

Kamelia Ganesh: The laser etching had been mostly worn away on the outside, but there were still a few marks here and there. One of them we had taken to be the remnants of a UNE crest, since the patterns were about the same, but seeing it next to another beacon with a similar marking, I noticed that it was a little bit off.

Professor McGonigal: Bless her scanning skills, because I don’t know many experts who would have picked up on the discrepancy. But once she pointed it out, it was plain as day. The crest wasn’t for the United Nations of Earth at all. It was in fact the very similar but distinct crest of the old Earth North American Alliance. The beacon was even older than we had thought.

The NAA crest hadn’t been used since the mid-23rd century, which meant that the beacon Kamelia had discovered dated back to Humanity’s earliest years of spaceflight. But what was it doing all the way out in Croshaw?

Professor McGonigal: With this new information in hand, it began to make sense why I was unable to find the ship in the registration archives. Knowing that the ship should be in the NAA records, I traveled to the University of Rhetor to access their datastore library directly. Sure enough, by re-configuring the alphanumeric sequence into the NAA format, we got a hit. What Ms. Ganesh had discovered was an actual emergency beacon from one of the first ships to ever travel through a jump point, the Goodman.

Outside of the Artemis, the Goodman was one of Humanity’s greatest unsolved mysteries. A Type-IV cargo vessel, it had in August of 2262 embarked on a supply run to a station in orbit around Sol VIII. The ship never arrived. Disappearing without a trace, the poor vessel and the eight souls aboard were victims of a phenomenon known then as the Neso Triangle, and what we know today as the Sol-Croshaw jump point.

Professor McGonigal: Researchers have been trying to locate the Goodman since Humans first explored Croshaw in earnest, and some seven hundred years later, Ms. Ganesh had found a major piece of the puzzle. Incredible.

Kamelia Ganesh: Talk about an a-ha! moment. That’s why the coordinates didn’t make sense. They weren’t incomplete, they were for a whole different system. See, since interstellar coordinates hadn’t been put into effect at the time, the Goodman had been forced to relay their emergency position using the old Sol mapping method. Can you imagine how confused the Goodman must have been when they got sucked through and saw a different sun?

I immediately flew back to Croshaw and began the search again. This time, with the starmap set to 2262 and the coordinates transposed from the Sol-method into our current standards, I was able to pinpoint where the Goodman had launched the beacon. Starting there and figuring that the ship must have drifted away from any of the usual flight lanes to have avoided detection for so long, I began doing what I do best, scanning. It took me a while, but the best things worth doing usually do. After weeks of looking, my scanner lit up as I detected the Goodman’s cross-signature and damn it all if it wasn’t right there in the middle of Croshaw floating peacefully in the black.

As soon as it made the press, the discovery was hailed as the archaeological find of the century. People were amazed and captivated by a piece of history that had been floating so close to them, just waiting to be discovered.

Professor McGonigal: We are still trying to piece together what happened to the Goodman’s crew once they arrived in the system, from the remains found aboard, but even if we never know the full story, the ship alone is an important piece of Humanity’s exploration of the stars.

Kamelia Ganesh: People been asking me if I’m going to switch jobs now, discover ancient wrecks full time. But to be honest, one find of a lifetime is probably enough for me. I’m just glad I got to discover a bit more of history’s story.

The Goodman is currently on display at the Mōhio Museum and there are hopes that other wrecks that disappeared through the Neso Triangle may soon be discovered in Croshaw now that archaeologists have a better idea where to look, thanks to the incredible efforts of Kamelia Ganesh.

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